At the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans, Bellator took a week off from tournament bouts, and had three decisions and an explosive debut.
Eric Larkin, a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler, showed off a well-rounded game in his Bellator debut, winning with a guillotine at 2:46 in the first round.
Larkin started out with a head kick that knocked Marcus Andrusia to the ground. Though he seemed a little surprised that the kick worked, he followed it up with ground-and-pound, and finished Andrusia off with a guillotine choke.
After the fight, Larkin said that he would be comfortable in Bellator's lightweight or featherweight tournament.
UFC vet Clementi loses close decision
In his Bellator debut, Rich Clementi lost a controversial decision to Carey Vanier. In a very close fight, Clementi and Vanier appeared tied up going into the final round.
Halfway through the third round, Vanier had Clementi pinned against the fence, with one hand down on the ground. By definition, Clementi was a downed opponent. Vanier landed two knees, busting open the area above Clementi's eye. The referee did not acknowledge the illegal knees. Though he gave Clementi's corner time to work on the cut, he did not deduct a point from Vanier's score, which would have been appropriate.
When the fight was restarted, Vanier inched ahead of Clementi, obviously winning the final round. The judges saw it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Vanier, meaning that a deducted point would have made the decision.
The two were fighting for a spot in the Bellator lightweight tournament. Vanier is in, but if Bellator wants to right the wrong done to Clementi, he will also be given a berth in the tournament.
Schambari, Karakhanyan win decisions
Eric Schambari beat Matt Horwich with a good jab and effective takedowns, taking the split decision, 30-27, 28-29, 30-27. The 28-29 score is questionable, unless the judge was rewarding Horwich for continuing to move forward, in an almost zombie-like way, no matter what Schambari threw at him.
Georgi Karakhanyan won a grappling-filled decision over Anthony Leone, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. Karakhanyan, who lost to Bellator champ Joe Warren last season, used jiu-jitsu to control Leone on the ground throughout the non-tournament bout.